|Posted on 3 March, 2017 at 3:00|
IRISH riders were in fantastic form yesterday, scoring a hat-trick of wins against top-class opposition in the Middle East, Europe and the USA.
Bertram Allen and Molly Malone (above) came out on top in the feature speed class at Al Shaqab's five-star fixture in Qatar. They saw off a world-class line-up that included five of the world's top 10 riders, to take the winner's prize of €23,000 in a competition the partnership finished as runners-up in 12 months ago.
Drawn second-last to go in Doha, Allen and his flying grey mare produced a the quickest clear round in 57.70 seconds, to deny Frenchman Roger-Yves Bost and Qoud'Coeur De La Loge after they had earlier posted a target of 58.04. Switzerland's Pius Schwizer and Balou Rubin R finished third a further second further back, while the top 10 finishers included top the likes of last year's winner Kevin Staut (FRA). Christian Ahlmann (GER), Steve Guerdat (SUI) and John Whitaker (GB).
The win came just a matter of hours after Allen had announced the retirement of the brilliant Romanov, who is just two years younger than his pilot at 19. The Dutch warmblood stallion enjoyed a glittering career, initially with Billy Twomey, who then passed him on to his young Wexford prodigy. He played a major role in launching Allen into the big time, the pair combining showing a particular liking for the Gallic air with successes in the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix at La Baule, Paris and Bordeaux.
"Romanov really was the horse of my lifetime" said Allen on his website. "He was introduced to me by my friend Billy Twomey and played a huge part in launching my career. Romanov has everything anyone could wish for in a horse, and he gave me his best always."
Meanwhile, the four-star fixture in Wellington, Florida, Shane Sweetnam (above) landed the $35,000 WEF Challenge Cup. Sweetnam guided Cobalt to the winning time of 69.13 in a competition which attracted 60 starters.
The Florida-based Corkman will be joined by Conor Swail, Paul O'Shea and Cian O'Connor on the Irish team for the Wellington Nations Cup which takes place on Friday night.
On the four-star Spanish Sunshine Tour in Vejer De La Frontera, Sligo's Richard Howley claimed the biggest competition of the day with the Neal Robinson-owned Calmond (below). Their clear round in 59.38 seconds saw them finish over three seconds ahead of runner-up Alvarez Moya Julio. The aforementioned Twomey also featured in the prizes, taking sixth place with Kimba Flamenco.